THE matter of national security is one of great concern to every citizen and the measures to be adopted to deal with our present situation must be bold and the implementation has to be decisive.
We believe that the measures have to be situated within the present context of crime statistics and thus the first level of enhancement will be the upgrading of data collection and analysis of crime. We intend to establish a fully functional Statistics Department within the Ministry of National Security. This new department will be the platform for the development of evidence-based initiatives.
The following are the statistics as generated by the Royal St. Lucia Police for criminal incidents:
• Year 2012 – 21,334 criminal incidents
• Year 2013 – 19,038 criminal incidents
• Year 2014 – 20,054 criminal incidents
• Year 2015 – 17,463 criminal incidents
If one has to consider that every one of these cases has to be investigated, and then even if you assume a detection rate of 50%, it means that approximately 10,000 cases a year have to go before a magistrate or judge. There is a backlog of cases at this time and this backlog will continue to increase in the future. Our remand section will continue to swell in numbers. We have to be bold and decisive.
The data is also showing that on average 73% of the criminal activities occur in the combined Castries and Gros Islet area.
We are of the opinion that the strategies must target community infrastructure, community culture and the physical environment within the community. The strategies must engage residents, community and faith-based organizations and local government bodies.
We propose to bring legislation to amend the provisions for bail. Many of those on remand are there because of the inability to raise their bail; it has thus created a situation where the justice system may be discriminatory as the poor are most affected. The intent is to move towards the use of technology by employing a GPS Offender Tracking System. The intent is that an offender will have the choice of bail or a tracking device and certain offenders on bail will have mandatory placement of tracking devices. It is hoped that this will significantly reduce the remand section of Bordelais Correctional Facility.
The next approach is to deal with community infrastructure. A deliberate effort will be made to improve the living conditions of the urban ‘hot spots’, starting with a clean-up campaign where the streets are cleaned and repaired and free paint issued to residents to improve the outlook of their homes. We believe these simple actions of improved lighting, clean and well-paved streets and well-painted homes will uplift these communities.
Burglaries represent a significant amount of criminal incidents and recidivism is high. We propose to remove all duties on surveillance equipment and to offer the private sector further incentives to participate in creating a National Surveillance Network. Duties will be removed on vehicle immobilizers and the Transport Division will be instructed to encourage drivers to install these devises.
The top five stolen items will be generated by the new Statistics Department within the Ministry of National Security. A new Property Register will be created in which residents can go online and register their property. This will greatly assist the police in identifying the owners of recovered property and in the police report for insurance purposes.
The resources of the police must also be reviewed. We fully support the development of proper facilities for police officers to function and a complete upgrade of all national security assets will be pursued. The transportation resources of the police have been an issue for several years. We intend as a matter of policy to immediately sell all vehicles utilized by the police that are over five years old. Police officers will be given the first choice on the purchase of these vehicles. The new fleet will be fully upgraded with the latest technology. We intend to improve our border control and discussions will be held with the French government for assistance in this regard.
The prevention and detection of crime should be viewed as the responsibility of every citizen and the national security policy will be developed on this platform.